Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Eight Myths You Might Believe About the Wild West, by Morgan K Wyatt


Like all historical authors, I had to do research my Civil War Series, Rebel Hearts and Escaping West. Most of what I thought I knew via television and even popular books is wrong, dead wrong. 

  1. There were no shootouts in the streets. That would be incredibly stupid to stand in the street and be a huge target. Undertakers did note the cause of death and most often if the death was from a gunshot, it was a bullet in the back.  

  1. Pistols or six-shooters were huge.  Hold out your arm and measure from your fingertips to your elbow, that is how long a Navy Colt was, a weapon of that time. They were heavy, expensive, and difficult to load. Their aim wasn’t that great and sometimes they misfired. It made them the weapon of last resort. 

  1. Most men did not own pistols because they were impractical. City people usually did not own rifles because they wouldn’t need them. In fact, there is a higher gun ownership now per capita. A family might own one rifle to hunt with if they didn’t live in the city.  

  1. Indians circling pioneer wagon trains may have never happened.  For the most part, settlers and Indians ignored each other. However, trappers and robbers did stage attacks for Indians to take the blame. Settlers shot about four hundred Indians for trespassing on disputed lands or even helping themselves to a cow, but no major skirmishes occurred until Custer. 

  1. Cowboys did not wear cowboy hats. Check out some actual historical photos and you’ll see Bat Masterson in a Derby hat. Wild Bill sported what looked like a lady's pancake hat. Billy the Kid wore a dented up top hat while most men wore sombreros or a low-crown hat similar to what Rhett Butler wore in Gone with the Wind.  

  1. Bank robbers did not rule the Wild West.  There were only eight actual robberies in forty years referred to as the Wild West period. In 2010, there were 5,600 bank robberies in the US. 

  1. Cowboys are essentially American. That would be true if you meant South American. Vaqueros existed in Latin America even before intrepid settlers moved west. 

  1. Good women always trotted around in corsets and hoop skirts. While, they might don them for special occasions, most women managed without the hoops with their everyday dresses. Many a woman died from a stray spark hitting her dress catching it on fire before she could rid herself of multiple petticoats and corset. The farther women moved west the less fancy the clothes were. If a woman had to work the farm or even hunt, she often donned her husband’s castoff clothes. 

The Wild West, popularized in televisions and novels, wasn’t so wild. People did die, but from illness, dehydration, starvation and accidents. Many women died in childbirth. It wasn’t an easy life, but the real dangers such as not having enough firewood or food to make it through a North Dakota winter did not make for a good movie or novel copy.

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Giveaway: Morgan is generously offering an ebook copy of Escaping West or a paperback copy of Undercover Rebel. She is also giving away a $10 Gift card to Amazon, Barnes or Noble or Starbucks (winner's choice.) Two winners, ending 5/20.



Synopsis: Kitty Hamilton is unsure how her life got so out of control. The unexpected deaths of her parents earned her a berth at her embittered aunt’s home. Her latest beau abandoned her, which made the prospect of leaving town appealing.

Her version of leaving didn’t include fleeing town dressed like a man, but circumstances dictate otherwise. Kitty becomes Kit to throw the law off her trail. As the pretend brother to her best friend Harriet, she accompanies her friend out west to her contracted bridegroom.

They encounter Nick Kennedy, flamboyant gambler, who takes an interest in the odd couple. Kitty enjoys the freedom her disguise allows, but she abandons any hope of attracting the handsome Nick Kennedy. Revealing her gender, might snag her a chance at the elusive gambler, but could also land her in prison. She keeps telling herself he isn’t worth it, but she’s not entirely convinced.

Excerpt:

Why did she do such an impulsive, stupid thing? She knew why even if she didn't want to admit it was something in his kisses. Then there was his voice, low, intimate calling her name.

“Kit, where are you?”

She could even hear it as if he was nearby. Amazing, Kitty shook her head bemused until she heard the voice again.

"Kit."

Her imagination must be working overtime. Duke whickered loud and hard. She started to tell him to hush when she heard boot steps on the gravel. Freezing in place, Kitty strained to hear the approaching footsteps.

"Kitty, it's me, Nick. Where are you?"

Letting go of the breath she'd been holding, Kitty took another breath before calling out. "I'm over here in the hole. Be careful."

"I'm coming, sweetheart." He called back, his boot heels scrambling for purchase over the rocks.

He'd called her sweetheart. She sighed then she accidentally put her weight on the wrong foot. "Ouch!"

"What, honey?” Nick called out in a voice that sounded a little closer.

"Hurry," Kitty managed through clenched teeth. He was there before she knew it. Deftly jumping into the hole and wrapping her in his arms, accidentally battering her already savaged ankle.

"Ouch, watch it," she complained.

"I didn't expect undying gratitude, but something like my hero might not be out of line," Nick commented laughingly.

"Thank you, Nick. I am grateful. I hurt my ankle when I fell into the hole." Kitty snuggled into Nick's shoulder appreciative of his warmth and inhaled deeply, enjoying the smell of worn leather and clean male.

Nick paced around the small hole with Kitty in his arms. He dragged his boot toe around the edge trying to find a way up or out.

"Well, darling, looks like I am going to have to toss you up," Nick acknowledged.

"What," Kitty squeaked. "Toss me where?"

"I looked, and there seems to be no easy way out of here. It’s up to you. Once you're up, I need you to tie the rope to the saddle horn on Duke's saddle and back him up. Once I get a hold of the rope, pull me up. Can you manage?"

Kitty had her doubts as she felt Nick's voice vibrate through the clothing separating the two of them. In the end, tossing seemed to be her only hope of getting out, and she imagined Nick was a good tosser. Naturally, he would be good at everything.



Morgan K Wyatt, raised on a steady diet of superheroes, believed she could fly at a very young age. After using trees, barn lofts, sliding boards, and even a second story window as launch pads, she found her flying skills were limited to fast and downward. By the age of nine, her dreams to be a superhero needed some modifications, which caused her to turn to writing and horseback riding as alternatives to flying. 

 At the age of twenty, she had another chance at superhero greatness as being one of the few female soldiers trained for combat. The fact that women will be able to serve in combat soon indicates that all the witnesses to the grenade incident have retired. The grenade incident didn’t prevent her two sons or daughter-in-law from enlisting in the service. Having different last names probably helped. 

Morgan recently retired from teaching special needs students to write fulltime, instead of in the wee hours of the night. With the help of her helpful husband and loyal hound, she creates characters who often grab plot lines and run with them. As for flying, she prefers the airlines now


19 comments:

  1. Good Morning Melissa,

    Thanks for hosting me today. I have a book trailer out on Escaping West too at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynGRBIXbZ34

    Want a copy at a discount?
    go to:
    www.secretcravingspublishing.com
    click on the book then use code Morgan20, it will give you 20% off. ( I am not sure if it is cap sensitive.)

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  2. Very interesting facts! I did NOT know that about the Colt, nor the Indians/wagon train skirmishes.

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    1. Hi Molly,
      I was a hard core western fan and thought every cowboy was packing a six shooter.
      Thanks for commenting.

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  3. I really didn't know any of that stuff. Tweeted.

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    1. Hi Ella,
      I have a truck load of facts about the Civil War I researched too. Most of the stories were started by dime westerns that was written a lot like The National Enquirer is today. :)

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  4. What a great blog! I enjoyed reading your post too, Morgan. Thank you for sharing. :D

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    1. Hi Emily,
      Sometimes research ruins your plot lines.I'd rather have an accurate portrayal though. Life in the west was hard enough without making things up. Thanks for commenting.

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  5. Great post Morgan. Best of luck on your release!

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    1. Hi Tamara,
      Thanks for your good wishes. Ironically, the fourth book Escaping West was the first written. I've hung out with Nick and Kitty for years. :)

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  6. Some of the things you listed I knew from my own research for Send Him an Angel, especially about the ladies dying from their skirts catching fire. I believe they also got them caught under the wagon wheels and died from that little problem....Great excerpt...Best of luck with ur new release....Tabs

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    1. Hi Tabitha,
      It makes you wonder why women were such slaves to fashion. Women in New Orleans used to wear woodem clogs up to a foot tall to save their dresses from the muddy streets.

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  7. So glad you shared these little-known facts about the west. This is one of the reasons why I think it's important for authors to keep the historical genre alive...if we don't use this knowledge, it will fade away and we'll lose so much of our heritage. The past is fascinating. Thanks for sharing it in your stories.

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    1. Hi Christina,
      Stephen Crane wrote a short story about a Swede who came to America thinking everyone sported a gun and engaged in shootouts because he read dime westerns. It shoots a man he's playing cards with because he was sure the man would shoot him. The man was unarmed. Crane wrote this to show the danger of believing everything you heard or read.

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  8. I love this period of American history. Thanks for the fun facts, Morgan, and congrats on your book release :-)

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  9. Hi Brandi,
    It is a fun period, but amazingly short. It allowed people a chance to make new starts. Thanks for commenting.

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  10. First, thank you, your two sons and daughter in law for your service!!Then thanks for sharing all that - I love to learn about fact vs. fiction and I'm sure your books must be good too!

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    1. Hi Loving Max,

      Is that Max in the profile shot? I will thank my children and daughter-in-law for you. They are getting ready for overseas tours, again.

      Sometimes it amazes me what people willing endured in the past. Thanks for commenting.

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  11. I love the facts..some I didn't know and love the cover on this one! Thanks for sharing it with us Melissa!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kim,
      Dawne Dominique does the covers and does a good job at capturing the theme. Thanks for commenting.

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